Maryland Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Second Injury Denied

A recent Maryland Court of Special Appeals opinion narrows the scope of recovery for subsequent injuries in workers' compensation cases.

In Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority v. Williams, the appellate court held that for a worker to recover under Maryland workers' compensation law from a second, subsequent injury, the second injury has to be directly related to the first injury.

The Facts of the Case

In April 2008, a mechanic for Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, or WMATA, injured his back and left knee while working on the job. The mechanic engaged in physical therapy to rehabilitate from the injuries, including a recommended work-hardening program - an intensive form of physical therapy. On the second to last day of the work-hardening program, the mechanic walked to his car in the parking lot to eat lunch. When returning to the physical-therapy building, he was hit by a car in the parking lot. The mechanic injured his right knee in the accident and requested workers' compensation benefits.

The question presented to the Maryland court: Is the mechanic's second knee injury covered by workers' compensation?

The worker argued that his second, subsequent injury should be covered by workers' compensation benefits because "but for" his first injury, he would never have been in the parking lot of the rehabilitation clinic and would not have sustained the second injury. The WMATA argued that there was not a direct causal connection between the first and the second injury and therefore the second injury was not compensable.

The Court's Decision

The appellate court agreed with the WMATA and found that there was not a sufficient connection between the first and second injury. The legal standard is not a "but for" test, but rather "a direct causal connection between the original accidental injury and the subsequent injury" must be shown. Applying this standard to the facts, the court found that the mechanic's second injury to his right knee was caused by a negligent driver and not by the first injury to his back and other knee.

Do You Need a Workers' Compensation Lawyer?

Workers' compensation laws are complex. If you have been injured on the job, contact an experienced workers' compensation attorney to protect your rights and to fight for the compensation you deserve to recover from your injuries.